Monopoly and Its Discontents
Posted by PintofStout on October 19, 2006
A few weeks ago I attempted to write this post with an introduction regarding the board game “Monopoly” and got sidetracked into an extended comparison of the game and what we have these days that passes for an economic system. Read the link if you want the introduction. The main purpose of the post was to delve into the apparent inconsistency of calling for the abolishment of the state while using its roads and, as some people naively argue, enjoying its protection. (I also enjoy the air I breathe which the government probably owns, too). There isn’t an inconsistency at all, in my view, and answer lies in the definition of a monopoly.
There are certain things one needs to survive and thrive in life. Some things are abundant and easily accessible while some are scarce and only available indirectly. The first thing one needs is a place to exist. Ignoring all the intricacies, I’ll just say the access to land provides a space to exist. One also needs nourishment of their body, without which they will succumb to disease or run out of energy to operate their vital organs. These are the basics.
Monopoly is one entity controlling the entire supply of something and thus controlling who can atttain it and for how much. There are differences between a natural monopoly (look at Chapter 10 on pg 375 of the link) and a state-granted monopoly. A natural monopoly is the one general store within 50 miles; a state-granted monopoly is the state disallowing competition from opening near the one general store under force of law (gunpoint). In a natural monopoly, competition is open and free to try and provide a better product or service in a free market, which isn’t the case in a state-granted monopoly. It is assumed that when I refer to monopoly, I refer to state-granted monopoly.
The first place governments hold a monopoly is in land. The deed one gets for purchasing the land from another party means you have a claim that no mere mortal can encroach, but which still allows the ethereal form of government to control the land. If one feels the need to disagree, please send me 1% of the total value of one’s property or I’ll evict and take the value out of the other belongings I seize. That makes it sound like I own the place and am charging rent, no? How is that different from property taxes or zoning laws? It is by these means that government exercises control over its property, which it has created by issuing a
lease deed for. If there is no access to land without engaging the government monopoly over it, then how is one to find nourishment. Everything that takes place on land under a particular government’s domain, including food production, would be participating in the monopoly. This includes roads, which I consider a necessity.
The utilization of a monopolized product is consistent with anti-state ideals when it is truly monopolized (not available by other reasonable means) by the government and it is necessary for existence. Pretty much any government function, even if competition could theoretically exist legally, is a monopoly because it is funded by extorted tax money giving it so large an advantage as to make competition irrelevant. So opening roads, libraries, or schools, for instance, in direct competition with the state is made nearly impossible (besides taking into account the land monopoly mentioned above) by either tax funding/subsidies or by over-regulation (but that term is redundant, isn’t it?). If the choice was using a product of the monopoly or ceasing to exist, then the decision can be said to be made under coercion and thus excludes it from a moral inconsistency standpoint.
In the case of protection, a.k.a. national defense (of what nation, Iraq?), the supposed product isn’t even a consented purchase. If there are arguments with that, please send 20% of your wages and earnings to me for protecting you from ignorance (and possibly alien invasions). In the case of non-payment, refer to the “rent” scenario above. I care not if protection from ignorance (and possible alien invasion) was wanted or if it wasn’t.
In conclusion, if there is no other reasonable choice, then transacting with true monopoly (state-granted) is considered coercive and cannot be included in the consistency of one’s moral standards. This would include the forced purchase of something not desired or delivered.